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I have booked a hotel in Tokyo near JR Ueno Train Station and it offers bike rental. I know that around the station there are various attractions like Ueno Park and temples of Asakusa. I thought I might want to rent a bike and visit all the neighbouring sites in one day.

I was wondering whether cycling in Tokyo, and especially in Taito area, safe? Are there cycle paths and in general is Tokyo a 'bicycle-friendly' city? Are there any rules or advice a cyclist should remember while riding and parking a bike on the street? (myself I cycle regularly in Edinburgh, UK)

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they do their cycling on sidewalks so it should be pretty safe but hard to move fast –  froderik May 4 '13 at 16:09
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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Cycling is generally very safe, particularly in Taito-ku. There aren't any bike lanes really but you're free to cycle on the pavement, as long as you dismount when it's too crowded. Furthermore drivers are used to cyclists, just keep tight to the left on bigger roads. Helmets are seldom worn, even by mothers with a kid on the front, one on the back and one strapped to their chest.

Parking is a bit different. If you lock your bike up (not that it's really necessary, generally it's very unlikely your bike will get stolen) just anywhere, you'll be either asked to move along or get a warning ticket stuck to it. Leave it too long and the council will lift it. Even designated parking areas (usually outside stations) often require a residency tag / pass from the council. As such I usually park outside convenience stores - allowed, and no chance of it getting moved.

Police do not look kindly on headphone or mobile phone usage whilst cycling either - you'll likely be stopped (though they're very polite and will do their best to explain in English).

Other than that, Tokyo is great to bike around! Perfect way to take in the sights, particularly within the Yamanote loop.

(Fellow Edinburger in Tokyo :))

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+1 and interesting point on head/mobile -phone use. –  Bart Arondson May 4 '13 at 21:12
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Cycling in Tokyo is a popular means of getting around for locals, so as a visitor you should try to experience the city by bicycle. Touring a city by bike gives you a totally different perspective as you become part of the city rather than a regular observer.

As stated by others it is acceptable to cycle on both roads and sidewalks, so you're free to cycle where you feel comfortable. Exercise some caution among pedestrians on the sidewalk as in accidents between pedestrians and bicycles the cyclist is always at fault.

More than safety, navigation is a big issue when cycling in Tokyo, it's a maze of narrow streets, none of which travel straight for long. Invest in a good map, or bring your smartphone along to remove some of the frustration of getting around.

Visit Tokyo By Bike http://www.tokyobybike.com for more information and news about cycling in Tokyo, and Japan.

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Dedicated bicycle paths are rare to nonexistant; people ride their bikes on the (usually narrow) sidewalks. Interestingly, there are explicit bicycle lanes marked on crossings, but only there.

However, I would still consider it safe since everyone (drivers, pedestrians and cyclists) is very careful, polite and rule-abiding. If you behave similarly, there should be no problems.

You can take a look on Google's Street View around the area - useful in any case, and you'll see that there are many people riding bicycles.

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